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Online Seminar “The Pandemic and Populism: preliminaries”

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The pandemic is changing society and everyone of us. One can no longer be sure about the validity of basic elements of human interaction in the overwrought, unpredictable and chaotic context to which we are reluctants witnesses, a time of seclusion and fear in which familiar aspects of everyday life have come to adopt indistinguishable and foreign forms. Social relations, earlier based on some variant of physicality and dependent on some measure of immediacy, on some form of “touching” or “watching”, are now forced to adapt to a “colder” and more anonymous mode of communication mediated by masks and screens. The realm of politics is no exception to this brutal awakening, but is in fact, and just as all other fields of human interplay, struggling to face the magnitude of the phenomenon. However, rather than run to meet the challenge and readjust to the shift, politics remains in stubborn stillness, in hidebound resistance to revise old rituals. The pandemic seems to have accelerated politics’ fall along the slippery slope of its previous defects. More populism, more ideology and more post-truth seem to be the order of the day, all of which ignite a general sense of confusion that only increases as rationality and security become prey to spastic appeals to beliefs and feelings. It is deeply troubling to see that whilst politicians and political parties speak louder, the streets and squares of our cities are nearly empty and silent. This strange reaction of politics before the post-modern plague we are now suffering, and the implications that it may have on our democracies, constitute a fruitful area for discussion, an area that Professor Mény, former president of the European University Institute and prestigious political scientist, will explore in his seminar at the Global Forum. In the framework of the Global Forum, newly established at the SOGOLAS, the Tallinn University School of Governance, Law, and Society, one can hopefully expect from now on fertile debates and fresh critical perspectives on the spirit of the times.

16th November, 2020

Online via Zoom, 5 p.m. Estonian time

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